With three races remaining in the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup season, Dale Earnhardt Jr. ranks 12th in the driver standings on the strength of one win, one pole position, 10 top-five finishes and 18 top-10s.
POLE POSITION: Earnhardt’s two pole positions at Texas are tied for first as career-bests for the 38-year-old driver. Earnhardt earned the top starting spot at the Lone Star State track in April 2001 and in April 2008, his first pole with Hendrick Motorsports. He also has two pole positions at Atlanta Motor Speedway and Michigan International Speedway.
FIRST WINS: Earnhardt, driver of the No. 88 National Guard/Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet, earned his first career Cup and NASCAR Nationwide Series wins at Texas Motor Speedway. He was just seven races into his rookie season when he recorded his first Cup win on April 2, 2000, at the Fort Worth racetrack. Then age 25, Earnhardt started the race fourth and led 106 laps on his way to Victory Lane. He recorded his first career win in the Nationwide Series on April 4, 1998.
EARNHARDT AT TEXAS: In 20 Sprint Cup starts at Texas Motor Speedway, Earnhardt has scored one win, two pole positions, three top-five finishes and 11 top-10s. He has an average starting position of 11.4, which is his second-best at all tracks, and he has led at least one lap in 13 of those starts for a total of 448 laps.
LOOP DATA: According to NASCAR’s loop data statistics, Earnhardt ranks second among drivers in laps run in the top 15 at Texas. During the last 15 races there, the Kannapolis, N.C., native has spent 78.3 percent of the events (3,930 laps of 5,020 total) running in the top 15. Earnhardt also ranks third in the average running position category with an 11.304 average spot.
DRIVER RATING: According to NASCAR’s loop data statistics, Earnhardt’s driver rating at Texas is 92.8, which ranks him eighth among drivers in the last 15 races at the 1.5-mile oval. The driver rating is a formula that combines the following categories: wins, finishes, top-15 finishes, average running position while on the lead lap, average speed under green, fastest lap, most laps led and lead-lap finishes. The maximum points a driver can earn in each race is 150 points. The driver rating number is used pre-race as a prediction tool and post-race as a performance evaluator.
CHASSIS CHOICE: This weekend at Texas, crew chief Steve Letarte will unload Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 88-726. Regan Smith most recently raced this chassis at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway in October. Earnhardt last raced this chassis to an eighth-place finish at Chicagoland Speedway in September.
HENDRICK AT TEXAS: In 23 races (93 starts) at Texas, Hendrick Motorsports has three wins, 22 top-five finishes and 40 top-10s. Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon rank tied for second with eight top-five finishes at the 1.5-mile track among drivers all-time at Texas. Johnson also ranks tied for second with 13 top-10s. Gordon and Earnhardt rank tied for first all-time with two pole positions.
TOP STARTERS: Among drivers all-time at Texas, Hendrick Motorsports’ four current drivers rank inside the top five for average starting spot. Johnson leads the pack with a 9.3 average starting position, and Earnhardt ranks second with 11.4. Kasey Kahne follows in third with an 11.7 average starting spot at Texas, and Gordon ranks fifth with 12.4.